China talks focusing on North Korean threat

US to host senior Chinese officials amid efforts to rein in North Korea

Tillerson said he made clear to China that the US "regards North Korea as our top security threat" and Beijing has a "diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region".

Geng said both bilateral and global issues would be taken up during the dialogue, which will be led on the USA side by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

North Korea topped the agenda at the newly established Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, which paired Tillerson and Mattis with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, chief of joint staff of the People's Liberation Army.

Terrorism and competing territorial claims in the South China Sea are also expected to be raised at Wednesday's discussions. "For example, we both agreed that our companies should not do business with any United Nations -designated North Korean entities in accordance with these resolutions", he said.

Tillerson stressed the need to choke off funding sources including money laundering, labor export and computer hacking. "The [security] dialogue itself demonstrates the importance the two countries attach to the relationship and their desire to achieve a results-oriented outcome", said Zhiqun Zhu, director of the China institute at the Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.

He said the Pentagon would maintain lines of communication with the Chinese military to head off any escalation in the South China Sea - but keep this separate from the diplomatic effort on North Korea.

Last month, Beijing and Washington signed a limited deal to open new markets for each other's exports and a long-standing friend of the Chinese leadership, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, was confirmed as ambassador.

"What we do is to develop friendly and cooperative relations on the basis of five principles of peaceful coexistence", the spokesman, Geng Shuang, told a regular briefing on Thursday. The dialogue was one of four high-level mechanisms announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump during their first meeting in Florida in April.

The talks are meant to build on progress made when President Donald Trump met China's president in Florida in April. At the same time, Trump has mostly held back on attacking Chinese trade practices, which he railed against during the presidential campaign.

The "100-Day Plan" announced by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April should help to reduce trade and other strains, according to Wei, who is vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, an official think tank. "At least I know China tried!"

Warmbier died on Monday after returning to his hometown in Ohio. The tweet puzzled even Trump's own aides.

Teng Jianqun, director of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said such talks show that both sides are inclined to be "more practical and forthright" in handling specific challenges to their delicate, and sometimes tumultuous ties.

"Under certain circumstances, we are willing to talk in terms of freezing the nuclear testing or missile testing". But it was unclear if Pyongyang was preparing for a sixth nuclear test.

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